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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Part 2 out of 7

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Merryweather is a bank director, and personally interested in the
matter. I thought it as well to have Jones with us also. He is
not a bad fellow, though an absolute imbecile in his profession.
He has one positive virtue. He is as brave as a bulldog and as
tenacious as a lobster if he gets his claws upon anyone. Here we
are, and they are waiting for us."

We had reached the same crowded thoroughfare in which we had
found ourselves in the morning. Our cabs were dismissed, and,
following the guidance of Mr. Merryweather, we passed down a
narrow passage and through a side door, which he opened for us.
Within there was a small corridor, which ended in a very massive
iron gate. This also was opened, and led down a flight of winding
stone steps, which terminated at another formidable gate. Mr.
Merryweather stopped to light a lantern, and then conducted us
down a dark, earth-smelling passage, and so, after opening a
third door, into a huge vault or cellar, which was piled all
round with crates and massive boxes.

"You are not very vulnerable from above," Holmes remarked as he
held up the lantern and gazed about him.

"Nor from below," said Mr. Merryweather, striking his stick upon
the flags which lined the floor. "Why, dear me, it sounds quite
hollow!" he remarked, looking up in surprise.

"I must really ask you to be a little more quiet!" said Holmes
severely. "You have already imperilled the whole success of our
expedition. Might I beg that you would have the goodness to sit
down upon one of those boxes, and not to interfere?"

The solemn Mr. Merryweather perched himself upon a crate, with a
very injured expression upon his face, while Holmes fell upon his
knees upon the floor and, with the lantern and a magnifying lens,
began to examine minutely the cracks between the stones. A few
seconds sufficed to satisfy him, for he sprang to his feet again
and put his glass in his pocket.

"We have at least an hour before us," he remarked, "for they can
hardly take any steps until the good pawnbroker is safely in bed.
Then they will not lose a minute, for the sooner they do their
work the longer time they will have for their escape. We are at
present, Doctor--as no doubt you have divined--in the cellar of
the City branch of one of the principal London banks. Mr.
Merryweather is the chairman of directors, and he will explain to
you that there are reasons why the more daring criminals of
London should take a considerable interest in this cellar at

"It is our French gold," whispered the director. "We have had
several warnings that an attempt might be made upon it."

"Your French gold?"

"Yes. We had occasion some months ago to strengthen our resources
and borrowed for that purpose 30,000 napoleons from the Bank of
France. It has become known that we have never had occasion to
unpack the money, and that it is still lying in our cellar. The
crate upon which I sit contains 2,000 napoleons packed between
layers of lead foil. Our reserve of bullion is much larger at
present than is usually kept in a single branch office, and the
directors have had misgivings upon the subject."

"Which were very well justified," observed Holmes. "And now it is
time that we arranged our little plans. I expect that within an
hour matters will come to a head. In the meantime Mr.
Merryweather, we must put the screen over that dark lantern."

"And sit in the dark?"

"I am afraid so. I had brought a pack of cards in my pocket, and
I thought that, as we were a partie carrée, you might have your
rubber after all. But I see that the enemy's preparations have
gone so far that we cannot risk the presence of a light. And,
first of all, we must choose our positions. These are daring men,
and though we shall take them at a disadvantage, they may do us
some harm unless we are careful. I shall stand behind this crate,
and do you conceal yourselves behind those. Then, when I flash a
light upon them, close in swiftly. If they fire, Watson, have no
compunction about shooting them down."

I placed my revolver, cocked, upon the top of the wooden case
behind which I crouched. Holmes shot the slide across the front
of his lantern and left us in pitch darkness--such an absolute
darkness as I have never before experienced. The smell of hot
metal remained to assure us that the light was still there, ready
to flash out at a moment's notice. To me, with my nerves worked
up to a pitch of expectancy, there was something depressing and
subduing in the sudden gloom, and in the cold dank air of the

"They have but one retreat," whispered Holmes. "That is back
through the house into Saxe-Coburg Square. I hope that you have
done what I asked you, Jones?"

"I have an inspector and two officers waiting at the front door."

"Then we have stopped all the holes. And now we must be silent
and wait."

What a time it seemed! From comparing notes afterwards it was but
an hour and a quarter, yet it appeared to me that the night must
have almost gone and the dawn be breaking above us. My limbs
were weary and stiff, for I feared to change my position; yet my
nerves were worked up to the highest pitch of tension, and my
hearing was so acute that I could not only hear the gentle
breathing of my companions, but I could distinguish the deeper,
heavier in-breath of the bulky Jones from the thin, sighing note
of the bank director. From my position I could look over the case
in the direction of the floor. Suddenly my eyes caught the glint
of a light.

At first it was but a lurid spark upon the stone pavement. Then
it lengthened out until it became a yellow line, and then,
without any warning or sound, a gash seemed to open and a hand
appeared, a white, almost womanly hand, which felt about in the
centre of the little area of light. For a minute or more the
hand, with its writhing fingers, protruded out of the floor. Then
it was withdrawn as suddenly as it appeared, and all was dark
again save the single lurid spark which marked a chink between
the stones.

Its disappearance, however, was but momentary. With a rending,
tearing sound, one of the broad, white stones turned over upon
its side and left a square, gaping hole, through which streamed
the light of a lantern. Over the edge there peeped a clean-cut,
boyish face, which looked keenly about it, and then, with a hand
on either side of the aperture, drew itself shoulder-high and
waist-high, until one knee rested upon the edge. In another
instant he stood at the side of the hole and was hauling after
him a companion, lithe and small like himself, with a pale face
and a shock of very red hair.

"It's all clear," he whispered. "Have you the chisel and the
bags? Great Scott! Jump, Archie, jump, and I'll swing for it!"

Sherlock Holmes had sprung out and seized the intruder by the
collar. The other dived down the hole, and I heard the sound of
rending cloth as Jones clutched at his skirts. The light flashed
upon the barrel of a revolver, but Holmes' hunting crop came
down on the man's wrist, and the pistol clinked upon the stone

"It's no use, John Clay," said Holmes blandly. "You have no
chance at all."

"So I see," the other answered with the utmost coolness. "I fancy
that my pal is all right, though I see you have got his

"There are three men waiting for him at the door," said Holmes.

"Oh, indeed! You seem to have done the thing very completely. I
must compliment you."

"And I you," Holmes answered. "Your red-headed idea was very new
and effective."

"You'll see your pal again presently," said Jones. "He's quicker
at climbing down holes than I am. Just hold out while I fix the

"I beg that you will not touch me with your filthy hands,"
remarked our prisoner as the handcuffs clattered upon his wrists.
"You may not be aware that I have royal blood in my veins. Have
the goodness, also, when you address me always to say 'sir' and

"All right," said Jones with a stare and a snigger. "Well, would
you please, sir, march upstairs, where we can get a cab to carry
your Highness to the police-station?"

"That is better," said John Clay serenely. He made a sweeping bow
to the three of us and walked quietly off in the custody of the

"Really, Mr. Holmes," said Mr. Merryweather as we followed them
from the cellar, "I do not know how the bank can thank you or
repay you. There is no doubt that you have detected and defeated
in the most complete manner one of the most determined attempts
at bank robbery that have ever come within my experience."

"I have had one or two little scores of my own to settle with Mr.
John Clay," said Holmes. "I have been at some small expense over
this matter, which I shall expect the bank to refund, but beyond
that I am amply repaid by having had an experience which is in
many ways unique, and by hearing the very remarkable narrative of
the Red-headed League."

"You see, Watson," he explained in the early hours of the morning
as we sat over a glass of whisky and soda in Baker Street, "it
was perfectly obvious from the first that the only possible
object of this rather fantastic business of the advertisement of
the League, and the copying of the 'Encyclopaedia,' must be to get
this not over-bright pawnbroker out of the way for a number of
hours every day. It was a curious way of managing it, but,
really, it would be difficult to suggest a better. The method was
no doubt suggested to Clay's ingenious mind by the colour of his
accomplice's hair. The 4 pounds a week was a lure which must draw
him, and what was it to them, who were playing for thousands?
They put in the advertisement, one rogue has the temporary
office, the other rogue incites the man to apply for it, and
together they manage to secure his absence every morning in the
week. From the time that I heard of the assistant having come for
half wages, it was obvious to me that he had some strong motive
for securing the situation."

"But how could you guess what the motive was?"

"Had there been women in the house, I should have suspected a
mere vulgar intrigue. That, however, was out of the question. The
man's business was a small one, and there was nothing in his
house which could account for such elaborate preparations, and
such an expenditure as they were at. It must, then, be something
out of the house. What could it be? I thought of the assistant's
fondness for photography, and his trick of vanishing into the
cellar. The cellar! There was the end of this tangled clue. Then
I made inquiries as to this mysterious assistant and found that I
had to deal with one of the coolest and most daring criminals in
London. He was doing something in the cellar--something which
took many hours a day for months on end. What could it be, once
more? I could think of nothing save that he was running a tunnel
to some other building.

"So far I had got when we went to visit the scene of action. I
surprised you by beating upon the pavement with my stick. I was
ascertaining whether the cellar stretched out in front or behind.
It was not in front. Then I rang the bell, and, as I hoped, the
assistant answered it. We have had some skirmishes, but we had
never set eyes upon each other before. I hardly looked at his
face. His knees were what I wished to see. You must yourself have
remarked how worn, wrinkled, and stained they were. They spoke of
those hours of burrowing. The only remaining point was what they
were burrowing for. I walked round the corner, saw the City and
Suburban Bank abutted on our friend's premises, and felt that I
had solved my problem. When you drove home after the concert I
called upon Scotland Yard and upon the chairman of the bank
directors, with the result that you have seen."

"And how could you tell that they would make their attempt
to-night?" I asked.

"Well, when they closed their League offices that was a sign that
they cared no longer about Mr. Jabez Wilson's presence--in other
words, that they had completed their tunnel. But it was essential
that they should use it soon, as it might be discovered, or the
bullion might be removed. Saturday would suit them better than
any other day, as it would give them two days for their escape.
For all these reasons I expected them to come to-night."

"You reasoned it out beautifully," I exclaimed in unfeigned
admiration. "It is so long a chain, and yet every link rings

"It saved me from ennui," he answered, yawning. "Alas! I already
feel it closing in upon me. My life is spent in one long effort
to escape from the commonplaces of existence. These little
problems help me to do so."

"And you are a benefactor of the race," said I.

He shrugged his shoulders. "Well, perhaps, after all, it is of
some little use," he remarked. "'L'homme c'est rien--l'oeuvre
c'est tout,' as Gustave Flaubert wrote to George Sand."


"My dear fellow," said Sherlock Holmes as we sat on either side
of the fire in his lodgings at Baker Street, "life is infinitely
stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We
would not dare to conceive the things which are really mere
commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window
hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the
roofs, and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the
strange coincidences, the plannings, the cross-purposes, the
wonderful chains of events, working through generations, and
leading to the most outré results, it would make all fiction with
its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and

"And yet I am not convinced of it," I answered. "The cases which
come to light in the papers are, as a rule, bald enough, and
vulgar enough. We have in our police reports realism pushed to
its extreme limits, and yet the result is, it must be confessed,
neither fascinating nor artistic."

"A certain selection and discretion must be used in producing a
realistic effect," remarked Holmes. "This is wanting in the
police report, where more stress is laid, perhaps, upon the
platitudes of the magistrate than upon the details, which to an
observer contain the vital essence of the whole matter. Depend
upon it, there is nothing so unnatural as the commonplace."

I smiled and shook my head. "I can quite understand your thinking
so." I said. "Of course, in your position of unofficial adviser
and helper to everybody who is absolutely puzzled, throughout
three continents, you are brought in contact with all that is
strange and bizarre. But here"--I picked up the morning paper
from the ground--"let us put it to a practical test. Here is the
first heading upon which I come. 'A husband's cruelty to his
wife.' There is half a column of print, but I know without
reading it that it is all perfectly familiar to me. There is, of
course, the other woman, the drink, the push, the blow, the
bruise, the sympathetic sister or landlady. The crudest of
writers could invent nothing more crude."

"Indeed, your example is an unfortunate one for your argument,"
said Holmes, taking the paper and glancing his eye down it. "This
is the Dundas separation case, and, as it happens, I was engaged
in clearing up some small points in connection with it. The
husband was a teetotaler, there was no other woman, and the
conduct complained of was that he had drifted into the habit of
winding up every meal by taking out his false teeth and hurling
them at his wife, which, you will allow, is not an action likely
to occur to the imagination of the average story-teller. Take a
pinch of snuff, Doctor, and acknowledge that I have scored over
you in your example."

He held out his snuffbox of old gold, with a great amethyst in
the centre of the lid. Its splendour was in such contrast to his
homely ways and simple life that I could not help commenting upon

"Ah," said he, "I forgot that I had not seen you for some weeks.
It is a little souvenir from the King of Bohemia in return for my
assistance in the case of the Irene Adler papers."

"And the ring?" I asked, glancing at a remarkable brilliant which
sparkled upon his finger.

"It was from the reigning family of Holland, though the matter in
which I served them was of such delicacy that I cannot confide it
even to you, who have been good enough to chronicle one or two of
my little problems."

"And have you any on hand just now?" I asked with interest.

"Some ten or twelve, but none which present any feature of
interest. They are important, you understand, without being
interesting. Indeed, I have found that it is usually in
unimportant matters that there is a field for the observation,
and for the quick analysis of cause and effect which gives the
charm to an investigation. The larger crimes are apt to be the
simpler, for the bigger the crime the more obvious, as a rule, is
the motive. In these cases, save for one rather intricate matter
which has been referred to me from Marseilles, there is nothing
which presents any features of interest. It is possible, however,
that I may have something better before very many minutes are
over, for this is one of my clients, or I am much mistaken."

He had risen from his chair and was standing between the parted
blinds gazing down into the dull neutral-tinted London street.
Looking over his shoulder, I saw that on the pavement opposite
there stood a large woman with a heavy fur boa round her neck,
and a large curling red feather in a broad-brimmed hat which was
tilted in a coquettish Duchess of Devonshire fashion over her
ear. From under this great panoply she peeped up in a nervous,
hesitating fashion at our windows, while her body oscillated
backward and forward, and her fingers fidgeted with her glove
buttons. Suddenly, with a plunge, as of the swimmer who leaves
the bank, she hurried across the road, and we heard the sharp
clang of the bell.

"I have seen those symptoms before," said Holmes, throwing his
cigarette into the fire. "Oscillation upon the pavement always
means an affaire de coeur. She would like advice, but is not sure
that the matter is not too delicate for communication. And yet
even here we may discriminate. When a woman has been seriously
wronged by a man she no longer oscillates, and the usual symptom
is a broken bell wire. Here we may take it that there is a love
matter, but that the maiden is not so much angry as perplexed, or
grieved. But here she comes in person to resolve our doubts."

As he spoke there was a tap at the door, and the boy in buttons
entered to announce Miss Mary Sutherland, while the lady herself
loomed behind his small black figure like a full-sailed
merchant-man behind a tiny pilot boat. Sherlock Holmes welcomed
her with the easy courtesy for which he was remarkable, and,
having closed the door and bowed her into an armchair, he looked
her over in the minute and yet abstracted fashion which was
peculiar to him.

"Do you not find," he said, "that with your short sight it is a
little trying to do so much typewriting?"

"I did at first," she answered, "but now I know where the letters
are without looking." Then, suddenly realising the full purport
of his words, she gave a violent start and looked up, with fear
and astonishment upon her broad, good-humoured face. "You've
heard about me, Mr. Holmes," she cried, "else how could you know
all that?"

"Never mind," said Holmes, laughing; "it is my business to know
things. Perhaps I have trained myself to see what others
overlook. If not, why should you come to consult me?"

"I came to you, sir, because I heard of you from Mrs. Etherege,
whose husband you found so easy when the police and everyone had
given him up for dead. Oh, Mr. Holmes, I wish you would do as
much for me. I'm not rich, but still I have a hundred a year in
my own right, besides the little that I make by the machine, and
I would give it all to know what has become of Mr. Hosmer Angel."

"Why did you come away to consult me in such a hurry?" asked
Sherlock Holmes, with his finger-tips together and his eyes to
the ceiling.

Again a startled look came over the somewhat vacuous face of Miss
Mary Sutherland. "Yes, I did bang out of the house," she said,
"for it made me angry to see the easy way in which Mr.
Windibank--that is, my father--took it all. He would not go to
the police, and he would not go to you, and so at last, as he
would do nothing and kept on saying that there was no harm done,
it made me mad, and I just on with my things and came right away
to you."

"Your father," said Holmes, "your stepfather, surely, since the
name is different."

"Yes, my stepfather. I call him father, though it sounds funny,
too, for he is only five years and two months older than myself."

"And your mother is alive?"

"Oh, yes, mother is alive and well. I wasn't best pleased, Mr.
Holmes, when she married again so soon after father's death, and
a man who was nearly fifteen years younger than herself. Father
was a plumber in the Tottenham Court Road, and he left a tidy
business behind him, which mother carried on with Mr. Hardy, the
foreman; but when Mr. Windibank came he made her sell the
business, for he was very superior, being a traveller in wines.
They got 4700 pounds for the goodwill and interest, which wasn't
near as much as father could have got if he had been alive."

I had expected to see Sherlock Holmes impatient under this
rambling and inconsequential narrative, but, on the contrary, he
had listened with the greatest concentration of attention.

"Your own little income," he asked, "does it come out of the

"Oh, no, sir. It is quite separate and was left me by my uncle
Ned in Auckland. It is in New Zealand stock, paying 4 1/2 per
cent. Two thousand five hundred pounds was the amount, but I can
only touch the interest."

"You interest me extremely," said Holmes. "And since you draw so
large a sum as a hundred a year, with what you earn into the
bargain, you no doubt travel a little and indulge yourself in
every way. I believe that a single lady can get on very nicely
upon an income of about 60 pounds."

"I could do with much less than that, Mr. Holmes, but you
understand that as long as I live at home I don't wish to be a
burden to them, and so they have the use of the money just while
I am staying with them. Of course, that is only just for the
time. Mr. Windibank draws my interest every quarter and pays it
over to mother, and I find that I can do pretty well with what I
earn at typewriting. It brings me twopence a sheet, and I can
often do from fifteen to twenty sheets in a day."

"You have made your position very clear to me," said Holmes.
"This is my friend, Dr. Watson, before whom you can speak as
freely as before myself. Kindly tell us now all about your
connection with Mr. Hosmer Angel."

A flush stole over Miss Sutherland's face, and she picked
nervously at the fringe of her jacket. "I met him first at the
gasfitters' ball," she said. "They used to send father tickets
when he was alive, and then afterwards they remembered us, and
sent them to mother. Mr. Windibank did not wish us to go. He
never did wish us to go anywhere. He would get quite mad if I
wanted so much as to join a Sunday-school treat. But this time I
was set on going, and I would go; for what right had he to
prevent? He said the folk were not fit for us to know, when all
father's friends were to be there. And he said that I had nothing
fit to wear, when I had my purple plush that I had never so much
as taken out of the drawer. At last, when nothing else would do,
he went off to France upon the business of the firm, but we went,
mother and I, with Mr. Hardy, who used to be our foreman, and it
was there I met Mr. Hosmer Angel."

"I suppose," said Holmes, "that when Mr. Windibank came back from
France he was very annoyed at your having gone to the ball."

"Oh, well, he was very good about it. He laughed, I remember, and
shrugged his shoulders, and said there was no use denying
anything to a woman, for she would have her way."

"I see. Then at the gasfitters' ball you met, as I understand, a
gentleman called Mr. Hosmer Angel."

"Yes, sir. I met him that night, and he called next day to ask if
we had got home all safe, and after that we met him--that is to
say, Mr. Holmes, I met him twice for walks, but after that father
came back again, and Mr. Hosmer Angel could not come to the house
any more."


"Well, you know father didn't like anything of the sort. He
wouldn't have any visitors if he could help it, and he used to
say that a woman should be happy in her own family circle. But
then, as I used to say to mother, a woman wants her own circle to
begin with, and I had not got mine yet."

"But how about Mr. Hosmer Angel? Did he make no attempt to see

"Well, father was going off to France again in a week, and Hosmer
wrote and said that it would be safer and better not to see each
other until he had gone. We could write in the meantime, and he
used to write every day. I took the letters in in the morning, so
there was no need for father to know."

"Were you engaged to the gentleman at this time?"

"Oh, yes, Mr. Holmes. We were engaged after the first walk that
we took. Hosmer--Mr. Angel--was a cashier in an office in
Leadenhall Street--and--"

"What office?"

"That's the worst of it, Mr. Holmes, I don't know."

"Where did he live, then?"

"He slept on the premises."

"And you don't know his address?"

"No--except that it was Leadenhall Street."

"Where did you address your letters, then?"

"To the Leadenhall Street Post Office, to be left till called
for. He said that if they were sent to the office he would be
chaffed by all the other clerks about having letters from a lady,
so I offered to typewrite them, like he did his, but he wouldn't
have that, for he said that when I wrote them they seemed to come
from me, but when they were typewritten he always felt that the
machine had come between us. That will just show you how fond he
was of me, Mr. Holmes, and the little things that he would think

"It was most suggestive," said Holmes. "It has long been an axiom
of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.
Can you remember any other little things about Mr. Hosmer Angel?"

"He was a very shy man, Mr. Holmes. He would rather walk with me
in the evening than in the daylight, for he said that he hated to
be conspicuous. Very retiring and gentlemanly he was. Even his
voice was gentle. He'd had the quinsy and swollen glands when he
was young, he told me, and it had left him with a weak throat,
and a hesitating, whispering fashion of speech. He was always
well dressed, very neat and plain, but his eyes were weak, just
as mine are, and he wore tinted glasses against the glare."

"Well, and what happened when Mr. Windibank, your stepfather,
returned to France?"

"Mr. Hosmer Angel came to the house again and proposed that we
should marry before father came back. He was in dreadful earnest
and made me swear, with my hands on the Testament, that whatever
happened I would always be true to him. Mother said he was quite
right to make me swear, and that it was a sign of his passion.
Mother was all in his favour from the first and was even fonder
of him than I was. Then, when they talked of marrying within the
week, I began to ask about father; but they both said never to
mind about father, but just to tell him afterwards, and mother
said she would make it all right with him. I didn't quite like
that, Mr. Holmes. It seemed funny that I should ask his leave, as
he was only a few years older than me; but I didn't want to do
anything on the sly, so I wrote to father at Bordeaux, where the
company has its French offices, but the letter came back to me on
the very morning of the wedding."

"It missed him, then?"

"Yes, sir; for he had started to England just before it arrived."

"Ha! that was unfortunate. Your wedding was arranged, then, for
the Friday. Was it to be in church?"

"Yes, sir, but very quietly. It was to be at St. Saviour's, near
King's Cross, and we were to have breakfast afterwards at the St.
Pancras Hotel. Hosmer came for us in a hansom, but as there were
two of us he put us both into it and stepped himself into a
four-wheeler, which happened to be the only other cab in the
street. We got to the church first, and when the four-wheeler
drove up we waited for him to step out, but he never did, and
when the cabman got down from the box and looked there was no one
there! The cabman said that he could not imagine what had become
of him, for he had seen him get in with his own eyes. That was
last Friday, Mr. Holmes, and I have never seen or heard anything
since then to throw any light upon what became of him."

"It seems to me that you have been very shamefully treated," said

"Oh, no, sir! He was too good and kind to leave me so. Why, all
the morning he was saying to me that, whatever happened, I was to
be true; and that even if something quite unforeseen occurred to
separate us, I was always to remember that I was pledged to him,
and that he would claim his pledge sooner or later. It seemed
strange talk for a wedding-morning, but what has happened since
gives a meaning to it."

"Most certainly it does. Your own opinion is, then, that some
unforeseen catastrophe has occurred to him?"

"Yes, sir. I believe that he foresaw some danger, or else he
would not have talked so. And then I think that what he foresaw

"But you have no notion as to what it could have been?"


"One more question. How did your mother take the matter?"

"She was angry, and said that I was never to speak of the matter

"And your father? Did you tell him?"

"Yes; and he seemed to think, with me, that something had
happened, and that I should hear of Hosmer again. As he said,
what interest could anyone have in bringing me to the doors of
the church, and then leaving me? Now, if he had borrowed my
money, or if he had married me and got my money settled on him,
there might be some reason, but Hosmer was very independent about
money and never would look at a shilling of mine. And yet, what
could have happened? And why could he not write? Oh, it drives me
half-mad to think of it, and I can't sleep a wink at night." She
pulled a little handkerchief out of her muff and began to sob
heavily into it.

"I shall glance into the case for you," said Holmes, rising, "and
I have no doubt that we shall reach some definite result. Let the
weight of the matter rest upon me now, and do not let your mind
dwell upon it further. Above all, try to let Mr. Hosmer Angel
vanish from your memory, as he has done from your life."

"Then you don't think I'll see him again?"

"I fear not."

"Then what has happened to him?"

"You will leave that question in my hands. I should like an
accurate description of him and any letters of his which you can

"I advertised for him in last Saturday's Chronicle," said she.
"Here is the slip and here are four letters from him."

"Thank you. And your address?"

"No. 31 Lyon Place, Camberwell."

"Mr. Angel's address you never had, I understand. Where is your
father's place of business?"

"He travels for Westhouse & Marbank, the great claret importers
of Fenchurch Street."

"Thank you. You have made your statement very clearly. You will
leave the papers here, and remember the advice which I have given
you. Let the whole incident be a sealed book, and do not allow it
to affect your life."

"You are very kind, Mr. Holmes, but I cannot do that. I shall be
true to Hosmer. He shall find me ready when he comes back."

For all the preposterous hat and the vacuous face, there was
something noble in the simple faith of our visitor which
compelled our respect. She laid her little bundle of papers upon
the table and went her way, with a promise to come again whenever
she might be summoned.

Sherlock Holmes sat silent for a few minutes with his fingertips
still pressed together, his legs stretched out in front of him,
and his gaze directed upward to the ceiling. Then he took down
from the rack the old and oily clay pipe, which was to him as a
counsellor, and, having lit it, he leaned back in his chair, with
the thick blue cloud-wreaths spinning up from him, and a look of
infinite languor in his face.

"Quite an interesting study, that maiden," he observed. "I found
her more interesting than her little problem, which, by the way,
is rather a trite one. You will find parallel cases, if you
consult my index, in Andover in '77, and there was something of
the sort at The Hague last year. Old as is the idea, however,
there were one or two details which were new to me. But the
maiden herself was most instructive."

"You appeared to read a good deal upon her which was quite
invisible to me," I remarked.

"Not invisible but unnoticed, Watson. You did not know where to
look, and so you missed all that was important. I can never bring
you to realise the importance of sleeves, the suggestiveness of
thumb-nails, or the great issues that may hang from a boot-lace.
Now, what did you gather from that woman's appearance? Describe

"Well, she had a slate-coloured, broad-brimmed straw hat, with a
feather of a brickish red. Her jacket was black, with black beads
sewn upon it, and a fringe of little black jet ornaments. Her
dress was brown, rather darker than coffee colour, with a little
purple plush at the neck and sleeves. Her gloves were greyish and
were worn through at the right forefinger. Her boots I didn't
observe. She had small round, hanging gold earrings, and a
general air of being fairly well-to-do in a vulgar, comfortable,
easy-going way."

Sherlock Holmes clapped his hands softly together and chuckled.

"'Pon my word, Watson, you are coming along wonderfully. You have
really done very well indeed. It is true that you have missed
everything of importance, but you have hit upon the method, and
you have a quick eye for colour. Never trust to general
impressions, my boy, but concentrate yourself upon details. My
first glance is always at a woman's sleeve. In a man it is
perhaps better first to take the knee of the trouser. As you
observe, this woman had plush upon her sleeves, which is a most
useful material for showing traces. The double line a little
above the wrist, where the typewritist presses against the table,
was beautifully defined. The sewing-machine, of the hand type,
leaves a similar mark, but only on the left arm, and on the side
of it farthest from the thumb, instead of being right across the
broadest part, as this was. I then glanced at her face, and,
observing the dint of a pince-nez at either side of her nose, I
ventured a remark upon short sight and typewriting, which seemed
to surprise her."

"It surprised me."

"But, surely, it was obvious. I was then much surprised and
interested on glancing down to observe that, though the boots
which she was wearing were not unlike each other, they were
really odd ones; the one having a slightly decorated toe-cap, and
the other a plain one. One was buttoned only in the two lower
buttons out of five, and the other at the first, third, and
fifth. Now, when you see that a young lady, otherwise neatly
dressed, has come away from home with odd boots, half-buttoned,
it is no great deduction to say that she came away in a hurry."

"And what else?" I asked, keenly interested, as I always was, by
my friend's incisive reasoning.

"I noted, in passing, that she had written a note before leaving
home but after being fully dressed. You observed that her right
glove was torn at the forefinger, but you did not apparently see
that both glove and finger were stained with violet ink. She had
written in a hurry and dipped her pen too deep. It must have been
this morning, or the mark would not remain clear upon the finger.
All this is amusing, though rather elementary, but I must go back
to business, Watson. Would you mind reading me the advertised
description of Mr. Hosmer Angel?"

I held the little printed slip to the light.

"Missing," it said, "on the morning of the fourteenth, a gentleman
named Hosmer Angel. About five ft. seven in. in height;
strongly built, sallow complexion, black hair, a little bald in
the centre, bushy, black side-whiskers and moustache; tinted
glasses, slight infirmity of speech. Was dressed, when last seen,
in black frock-coat faced with silk, black waistcoat, gold Albert
chain, and grey Harris tweed trousers, with brown gaiters over
elastic-sided boots. Known to have been employed in an office in
Leadenhall Street. Anybody bringing--"

"That will do," said Holmes. "As to the letters," he continued,
glancing over them, "they are very commonplace. Absolutely no
clue in them to Mr. Angel, save that he quotes Balzac once. There
is one remarkable point, however, which will no doubt strike

"They are typewritten," I remarked.

"Not only that, but the signature is typewritten. Look at the
neat little 'Hosmer Angel' at the bottom. There is a date, you
see, but no superscription except Leadenhall Street, which is
rather vague. The point about the signature is very suggestive
--in fact, we may call it conclusive."

"Of what?"

"My dear fellow, is it possible you do not see how strongly it
bears upon the case?"

"I cannot say that I do unless it were that he wished to be able
to deny his signature if an action for breach of promise were

"No, that was not the point. However, I shall write two letters,
which should settle the matter. One is to a firm in the City, the
other is to the young lady's stepfather, Mr. Windibank, asking
him whether he could meet us here at six o'clock tomorrow
evening. It is just as well that we should do business with the
male relatives. And now, Doctor, we can do nothing until the
answers to those letters come, so we may put our little problem
upon the shelf for the interim."

I had had so many reasons to believe in my friend's subtle powers
of reasoning and extraordinary energy in action that I felt that
he must have some solid grounds for the assured and easy
demeanour with which he treated the singular mystery which he had
been called upon to fathom. Once only had I known him to fail, in
the case of the King of Bohemia and of the Irene Adler
photograph; but when I looked back to the weird business of the
Sign of Four, and the extraordinary circumstances connected with
the Study in Scarlet, I felt that it would be a strange tangle
indeed which he could not unravel.

I left him then, still puffing at his black clay pipe, with the
conviction that when I came again on the next evening I would
find that he held in his hands all the clues which would lead up
to the identity of the disappearing bridegroom of Miss Mary

A professional case of great gravity was engaging my own
attention at the time, and the whole of next day I was busy at
the bedside of the sufferer. It was not until close upon six
o'clock that I found myself free and was able to spring into a
hansom and drive to Baker Street, half afraid that I might be too
late to assist at the dénouement of the little mystery. I found
Sherlock Holmes alone, however, half asleep, with his long, thin
form curled up in the recesses of his armchair. A formidable
array of bottles and test-tubes, with the pungent cleanly smell
of hydrochloric acid, told me that he had spent his day in the
chemical work which was so dear to him.

"Well, have you solved it?" I asked as I entered.

"Yes. It was the bisulphate of baryta."

"No, no, the mystery!" I cried.

"Oh, that! I thought of the salt that I have been working upon.
There was never any mystery in the matter, though, as I said
yesterday, some of the details are of interest. The only drawback
is that there is no law, I fear, that can touch the scoundrel."

"Who was he, then, and what was his object in deserting Miss

The question was hardly out of my mouth, and Holmes had not yet
opened his lips to reply, when we heard a heavy footfall in the
passage and a tap at the door.

"This is the girl's stepfather, Mr. James Windibank," said
Holmes. "He has written to me to say that he would be here at
six. Come in!"

The man who entered was a sturdy, middle-sized fellow, some
thirty years of age, clean-shaven, and sallow-skinned, with a
bland, insinuating manner, and a pair of wonderfully sharp and
penetrating grey eyes. He shot a questioning glance at each of
us, placed his shiny top-hat upon the sideboard, and with a
slight bow sidled down into the nearest chair.

"Good-evening, Mr. James Windibank," said Holmes. "I think that
this typewritten letter is from you, in which you made an
appointment with me for six o'clock?"

"Yes, sir. I am afraid that I am a little late, but I am not
quite my own master, you know. I am sorry that Miss Sutherland
has troubled you about this little matter, for I think it is far
better not to wash linen of the sort in public. It was quite
against my wishes that she came, but she is a very excitable,
impulsive girl, as you may have noticed, and she is not easily
controlled when she has made up her mind on a point. Of course, I
did not mind you so much, as you are not connected with the
official police, but it is not pleasant to have a family
misfortune like this noised abroad. Besides, it is a useless
expense, for how could you possibly find this Hosmer Angel?"

"On the contrary," said Holmes quietly; "I have every reason to
believe that I will succeed in discovering Mr. Hosmer Angel."

Mr. Windibank gave a violent start and dropped his gloves. "I am
delighted to hear it," he said.

"It is a curious thing," remarked Holmes, "that a typewriter has
really quite as much individuality as a man's handwriting. Unless
they are quite new, no two of them write exactly alike. Some
letters get more worn than others, and some wear only on one
side. Now, you remark in this note of yours, Mr. Windibank, that
in every case there is some little slurring over of the 'e,' and
a slight defect in the tail of the 'r.' There are fourteen other
characteristics, but those are the more obvious."

"We do all our correspondence with this machine at the office,
and no doubt it is a little worn," our visitor answered, glancing
keenly at Holmes with his bright little eyes.

"And now I will show you what is really a very interesting study,
Mr. Windibank," Holmes continued. "I think of writing another
little monograph some of these days on the typewriter and its
relation to crime. It is a subject to which I have devoted some
little attention. I have here four letters which purport to come
from the missing man. They are all typewritten. In each case, not
only are the 'e's' slurred and the 'r's' tailless, but you will
observe, if you care to use my magnifying lens, that the fourteen
other characteristics to which I have alluded are there as well."

Mr. Windibank sprang out of his chair and picked up his hat. "I
cannot waste time over this sort of fantastic talk, Mr. Holmes,"
he said. "If you can catch the man, catch him, and let me know
when you have done it."

"Certainly," said Holmes, stepping over and turning the key in
the door. "I let you know, then, that I have caught him!"

"What! where?" shouted Mr. Windibank, turning white to his lips
and glancing about him like a rat in a trap.

"Oh, it won't do--really it won't," said Holmes suavely. "There
is no possible getting out of it, Mr. Windibank. It is quite too
transparent, and it was a very bad compliment when you said that
it was impossible for me to solve so simple a question. That's
right! Sit down and let us talk it over."

Our visitor collapsed into a chair, with a ghastly face and a
glitter of moisture on his brow. "It--it's not actionable," he

"I am very much afraid that it is not. But between ourselves,
Windibank, it was as cruel and selfish and heartless a trick in a
petty way as ever came before me. Now, let me just run over the
course of events, and you will contradict me if I go wrong."

The man sat huddled up in his chair, with his head sunk upon his
breast, like one who is utterly crushed. Holmes stuck his feet up
on the corner of the mantelpiece and, leaning back with his hands
in his pockets, began talking, rather to himself, as it seemed,
than to us.

"The man married a woman very much older than himself for her
money," said he, "and he enjoyed the use of the money of the
daughter as long as she lived with them. It was a considerable
sum, for people in their position, and the loss of it would have
made a serious difference. It was worth an effort to preserve it.
The daughter was of a good, amiable disposition, but affectionate
and warm-hearted in her ways, so that it was evident that with
her fair personal advantages, and her little income, she would
not be allowed to remain single long. Now her marriage would
mean, of course, the loss of a hundred a year, so what does her
stepfather do to prevent it? He takes the obvious course of
keeping her at home and forbidding her to seek the company of
people of her own age. But soon he found that that would not
answer forever. She became restive, insisted upon her rights, and
finally announced her positive intention of going to a certain
ball. What does her clever stepfather do then? He conceives an
idea more creditable to his head than to his heart. With the
connivance and assistance of his wife he disguised himself,
covered those keen eyes with tinted glasses, masked the face with
a moustache and a pair of bushy whiskers, sunk that clear voice
into an insinuating whisper, and doubly secure on account of the
girl's short sight, he appears as Mr. Hosmer Angel, and keeps off
other lovers by making love himself."

"It was only a joke at first," groaned our visitor. "We never
thought that she would have been so carried away."

"Very likely not. However that may be, the young lady was very
decidedly carried away, and, having quite made up her mind that
her stepfather was in France, the suspicion of treachery never
for an instant entered her mind. She was flattered by the
gentleman's attentions, and the effect was increased by the
loudly expressed admiration of her mother. Then Mr. Angel began
to call, for it was obvious that the matter should be pushed as
far as it would go if a real effect were to be produced. There
were meetings, and an engagement, which would finally secure the
girl's affections from turning towards anyone else. But the
deception could not be kept up forever. These pretended journeys
to France were rather cumbrous. The thing to do was clearly to
bring the business to an end in such a dramatic manner that it
would leave a permanent impression upon the young lady's mind and
prevent her from looking upon any other suitor for some time to
come. Hence those vows of fidelity exacted upon a Testament, and
hence also the allusions to a possibility of something happening
on the very morning of the wedding. James Windibank wished Miss
Sutherland to be so bound to Hosmer Angel, and so uncertain as to
his fate, that for ten years to come, at any rate, she would not
listen to another man. As far as the church door he brought her,
and then, as he could go no farther, he conveniently vanished
away by the old trick of stepping in at one door of a
four-wheeler and out at the other. I think that was the chain of
events, Mr. Windibank!"

Our visitor had recovered something of his assurance while Holmes
had been talking, and he rose from his chair now with a cold
sneer upon his pale face.

"It may be so, or it may not, Mr. Holmes," said he, "but if you
are so very sharp you ought to be sharp enough to know that it is
you who are breaking the law now, and not me. I have done nothing
actionable from the first, but as long as you keep that door
locked you lay yourself open to an action for assault and illegal

"The law cannot, as you say, touch you," said Holmes, unlocking
and throwing open the door, "yet there never was a man who
deserved punishment more. If the young lady has a brother or a
friend, he ought to lay a whip across your shoulders. By Jove!"
he continued, flushing up at the sight of the bitter sneer upon
the man's face, "it is not part of my duties to my client, but
here's a hunting crop handy, and I think I shall just treat
myself to--" He took two swift steps to the whip, but before he
could grasp it there was a wild clatter of steps upon the stairs,
the heavy hall door banged, and from the window we could see Mr.
James Windibank running at the top of his speed down the road.

"There's a cold-blooded scoundrel!" said Holmes, laughing, as he
threw himself down into his chair once more. "That fellow will
rise from crime to crime until he does something very bad, and
ends on a gallows. The case has, in some respects, been not
entirely devoid of interest."

"I cannot now entirely see all the steps of your reasoning," I

"Well, of course it was obvious from the first that this Mr.
Hosmer Angel must have some strong object for his curious
conduct, and it was equally clear that the only man who really
profited by the incident, as far as we could see, was the
stepfather. Then the fact that the two men were never together,
but that the one always appeared when the other was away, was
suggestive. So were the tinted spectacles and the curious voice,
which both hinted at a disguise, as did the bushy whiskers. My
suspicions were all confirmed by his peculiar action in
typewriting his signature, which, of course, inferred that his
handwriting was so familiar to her that she would recognise even
the smallest sample of it. You see all these isolated facts,
together with many minor ones, all pointed in the same

"And how did you verify them?"

"Having once spotted my man, it was easy to get corroboration. I
knew the firm for which this man worked. Having taken the printed
description. I eliminated everything from it which could be the
result of a disguise--the whiskers, the glasses, the voice, and I
sent it to the firm, with a request that they would inform me
whether it answered to the description of any of their
travellers. I had already noticed the peculiarities of the
typewriter, and I wrote to the man himself at his business
address asking him if he would come here. As I expected, his
reply was typewritten and revealed the same trivial but
characteristic defects. The same post brought me a letter from
Westhouse & Marbank, of Fenchurch Street, to say that the
description tallied in every respect with that of their employé,
James Windibank. Voilà tout!"

"And Miss Sutherland?"

"If I tell her she will not believe me. You may remember the old
Persian saying, 'There is danger for him who taketh the tiger
cub, and danger also for whoso snatches a delusion from a woman.'
There is as much sense in Hafiz as in Horace, and as much
knowledge of the world."


We were seated at breakfast one morning, my wife and I, when the
maid brought in a telegram. It was from Sherlock Holmes and ran
in this way:

"Have you a couple of days to spare? Have just been wired for from
the west of England in connection with Boscombe Valley tragedy.
Shall be glad if you will come with me. Air and scenery perfect.
Leave Paddington by the 11:15."

"What do you say, dear?" said my wife, looking across at me.
"Will you go?"

"I really don't know what to say. I have a fairly long list at

"Oh, Anstruther would do your work for you. You have been looking
a little pale lately. I think that the change would do you good,
and you are always so interested in Mr. Sherlock Holmes' cases."

"I should be ungrateful if I were not, seeing what I gained
through one of them," I answered. "But if I am to go, I must pack
at once, for I have only half an hour."

My experience of camp life in Afghanistan had at least had the
effect of making me a prompt and ready traveller. My wants were
few and simple, so that in less than the time stated I was in a
cab with my valise, rattling away to Paddington Station. Sherlock
Holmes was pacing up and down the platform, his tall, gaunt
figure made even gaunter and taller by his long grey
travelling-cloak and close-fitting cloth cap.

"It is really very good of you to come, Watson," said he. "It
makes a considerable difference to me, having someone with me on
whom I can thoroughly rely. Local aid is always either worthless
or else biassed. If you will keep the two corner seats I shall
get the tickets."

We had the carriage to ourselves save for an immense litter of
papers which Holmes had brought with him. Among these he rummaged
and read, with intervals of note-taking and of meditation, until
we were past Reading. Then he suddenly rolled them all into a
gigantic ball and tossed them up onto the rack.

"Have you heard anything of the case?" he asked.

"Not a word. I have not seen a paper for some days."

"The London press has not had very full accounts. I have just
been looking through all the recent papers in order to master the
particulars. It seems, from what I gather, to be one of those
simple cases which are so extremely difficult."

"That sounds a little paradoxical."

"But it is profoundly true. Singularity is almost invariably a
clue. The more featureless and commonplace a crime is, the more
difficult it is to bring it home. In this case, however, they
have established a very serious case against the son of the
murdered man."

"It is a murder, then?"

"Well, it is conjectured to be so. I shall take nothing for
granted until I have the opportunity of looking personally into
it. I will explain the state of things to you, as far as I have
been able to understand it, in a very few words.

"Boscombe Valley is a country district not very far from Ross, in
Herefordshire. The largest landed proprietor in that part is a
Mr. John Turner, who made his money in Australia and returned
some years ago to the old country. One of the farms which he
held, that of Hatherley, was let to Mr. Charles McCarthy, who was
also an ex-Australian. The men had known each other in the
colonies, so that it was not unnatural that when they came to
settle down they should do so as near each other as possible.
Turner was apparently the richer man, so McCarthy became his
tenant but still remained, it seems, upon terms of perfect
equality, as they were frequently together. McCarthy had one son,
a lad of eighteen, and Turner had an only daughter of the same
age, but neither of them had wives living. They appear to have
avoided the society of the neighbouring English families and to
have led retired lives, though both the McCarthys were fond of
sport and were frequently seen at the race-meetings of the
neighbourhood. McCarthy kept two servants--a man and a girl.
Turner had a considerable household, some half-dozen at the
least. That is as much as I have been able to gather about the
families. Now for the facts.

"On June 3rd, that is, on Monday last, McCarthy left his house at
Hatherley about three in the afternoon and walked down to the
Boscombe Pool, which is a small lake formed by the spreading out
of the stream which runs down the Boscombe Valley. He had been
out with his serving-man in the morning at Ross, and he had told
the man that he must hurry, as he had an appointment of
importance to keep at three. From that appointment he never came
back alive.

"From Hatherley Farm-house to the Boscombe Pool is a quarter of a
mile, and two people saw him as he passed over this ground. One
was an old woman, whose name is not mentioned, and the other was
William Crowder, a game-keeper in the employ of Mr. Turner. Both
these witnesses depose that Mr. McCarthy was walking alone. The
game-keeper adds that within a few minutes of his seeing Mr.
McCarthy pass he had seen his son, Mr. James McCarthy, going the
same way with a gun under his arm. To the best of his belief, the
father was actually in sight at the time, and the son was
following him. He thought no more of the matter until he heard in
the evening of the tragedy that had occurred.

"The two McCarthys were seen after the time when William Crowder,
the game-keeper, lost sight of them. The Boscombe Pool is thickly
wooded round, with just a fringe of grass and of reeds round the
edge. A girl of fourteen, Patience Moran, who is the daughter of
the lodge-keeper of the Boscombe Valley estate, was in one of the
woods picking flowers. She states that while she was there she
saw, at the border of the wood and close by the lake, Mr.
McCarthy and his son, and that they appeared to be having a
violent quarrel. She heard Mr. McCarthy the elder using very
strong language to his son, and she saw the latter raise up his
hand as if to strike his father. She was so frightened by their
violence that she ran away and told her mother when she reached
home that she had left the two McCarthys quarrelling near
Boscombe Pool, and that she was afraid that they were going to
fight. She had hardly said the words when young Mr. McCarthy came
running up to the lodge to say that he had found his father dead
in the wood, and to ask for the help of the lodge-keeper. He was
much excited, without either his gun or his hat, and his right
hand and sleeve were observed to be stained with fresh blood. On
following him they found the dead body stretched out upon the
grass beside the pool. The head had been beaten in by repeated
blows of some heavy and blunt weapon. The injuries were such as
might very well have been inflicted by the butt-end of his son's
gun, which was found lying on the grass within a few paces of the
body. Under these circumstances the young man was instantly
arrested, and a verdict of 'wilful murder' having been returned
at the inquest on Tuesday, he was on Wednesday brought before the
magistrates at Ross, who have referred the case to the next
Assizes. Those are the main facts of the case as they came out
before the coroner and the police-court."

"I could hardly imagine a more damning case," I remarked. "If
ever circumstantial evidence pointed to a criminal it does so

"Circumstantial evidence is a very tricky thing," answered Holmes
thoughtfully. "It may seem to point very straight to one thing,
but if you shift your own point of view a little, you may find it
pointing in an equally uncompromising manner to something
entirely different. It must be confessed, however, that the case
looks exceedingly grave against the young man, and it is very
possible that he is indeed the culprit. There are several people
in the neighbourhood, however, and among them Miss Turner, the
daughter of the neighbouring landowner, who believe in his
innocence, and who have retained Lestrade, whom you may recollect
in connection with the Study in Scarlet, to work out the case in
his interest. Lestrade, being rather puzzled, has referred the
case to me, and hence it is that two middle-aged gentlemen are
flying westward at fifty miles an hour instead of quietly
digesting their breakfasts at home."

"I am afraid," said I, "that the facts are so obvious that you
will find little credit to be gained out of this case."

"There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact," he
answered, laughing. "Besides, we may chance to hit upon some
other obvious facts which may have been by no means obvious to
Mr. Lestrade. You know me too well to think that I am boasting
when I say that I shall either confirm or destroy his theory by
means which he is quite incapable of employing, or even of
understanding. To take the first example to hand, I very clearly
perceive that in your bedroom the window is upon the right-hand
side, and yet I question whether Mr. Lestrade would have noted
even so self-evident a thing as that."

"How on earth--"

"My dear fellow, I know you well. I know the military neatness
which characterises you. You shave every morning, and in this
season you shave by the sunlight; but since your shaving is less
and less complete as we get farther back on the left side, until
it becomes positively slovenly as we get round the angle of the
jaw, it is surely very clear that that side is less illuminated
than the other. I could not imagine a man of your habits looking
at himself in an equal light and being satisfied with such a
result. I only quote this as a trivial example of observation and
inference. Therein lies my métier, and it is just possible that
it may be of some service in the investigation which lies before
us. There are one or two minor points which were brought out in
the inquest, and which are worth considering."

"What are they?"

"It appears that his arrest did not take place at once, but after
the return to Hatherley Farm. On the inspector of constabulary
informing him that he was a prisoner, he remarked that he was not
surprised to hear it, and that it was no more than his deserts.
This observation of his had the natural effect of removing any
traces of doubt which might have remained in the minds of the
coroner's jury."

"It was a confession," I ejaculated.

"No, for it was followed by a protestation of innocence."

"Coming on the top of such a damning series of events, it was at
least a most suspicious remark."

"On the contrary," said Holmes, "it is the brightest rift which I
can at present see in the clouds. However innocent he might be,
he could not be such an absolute imbecile as not to see that the
circumstances were very black against him. Had he appeared
surprised at his own arrest, or feigned indignation at it, I
should have looked upon it as highly suspicious, because such
surprise or anger would not be natural under the circumstances,
and yet might appear to be the best policy to a scheming man. His
frank acceptance of the situation marks him as either an innocent
man, or else as a man of considerable self-restraint and
firmness. As to his remark about his deserts, it was also not
unnatural if you consider that he stood beside the dead body of
his father, and that there is no doubt that he had that very day
so far forgotten his filial duty as to bandy words with him, and
even, according to the little girl whose evidence is so
important, to raise his hand as if to strike him. The
self-reproach and contrition which are displayed in his remark
appear to me to be the signs of a healthy mind rather than of a
guilty one."

I shook my head. "Many men have been hanged on far slighter
evidence," I remarked.

"So they have. And many men have been wrongfully hanged."

"What is the young man's own account of the matter?"

"It is, I am afraid, not very encouraging to his supporters,
though there are one or two points in it which are suggestive.
You will find it here, and may read it for yourself."

He picked out from his bundle a copy of the local Herefordshire
paper, and having turned down the sheet he pointed out the
paragraph in which the unfortunate young man had given his own
statement of what had occurred. I settled myself down in the
corner of the carriage and read it very carefully. It ran in this

"Mr. James McCarthy, the only son of the deceased, was then called
and gave evidence as follows: 'I had been away from home for
three days at Bristol, and had only just returned upon the
morning of last Monday, the 3rd. My father was absent from home at
the time of my arrival, and I was informed by the maid that he
had driven over to Ross with John Cobb, the groom. Shortly after
my return I heard the wheels of his trap in the yard, and,
looking out of my window, I saw him get out and walk rapidly out
of the yard, though I was not aware in which direction he was
going. I then took my gun and strolled out in the direction of
the Boscombe Pool, with the intention of visiting the rabbit
warren which is upon the other side. On my way I saw William
Crowder, the game-keeper, as he had stated in his evidence; but
he is mistaken in thinking that I was following my father. I had
no idea that he was in front of me. When about a hundred yards
from the pool I heard a cry of "Cooee!" which was a usual signal
between my father and myself. I then hurried forward, and found
him standing by the pool. He appeared to be much surprised at
seeing me and asked me rather roughly what I was doing there. A
conversation ensued which led to high words and almost to blows,
for my father was a man of a very violent temper. Seeing that his
passion was becoming ungovernable, I left him and returned
towards Hatherley Farm. I had not gone more than 150 yards,
however, when I heard a hideous outcry behind me, which caused me
to run back again. I found my father expiring upon the ground,
with his head terribly injured. I dropped my gun and held him in
my arms, but he almost instantly expired. I knelt beside him for
some minutes, and then made my way to Mr. Turner's lodge-keeper,
his house being the nearest, to ask for assistance. I saw no one
near my father when I returned, and I have no idea how he came by
his injuries. He was not a popular man, being somewhat cold and
forbidding in his manners, but he had, as far as I know, no
active enemies. I know nothing further of the matter.'

"The Coroner: Did your father make any statement to you before
he died?

"Witness: He mumbled a few words, but I could only catch some
allusion to a rat.

"The Coroner: What did you understand by that?

"Witness: It conveyed no meaning to me. I thought that he was

"The Coroner: What was the point upon which you and your father
had this final quarrel?

"Witness: I should prefer not to answer.

"The Coroner: I am afraid that I must press it.

"Witness: It is really impossible for me to tell you. I can
assure you that it has nothing to do with the sad tragedy which

"The Coroner: That is for the court to decide. I need not point
out to you that your refusal to answer will prejudice your case
considerably in any future proceedings which may arise.

"Witness: I must still refuse.

"The Coroner: I understand that the cry of 'Cooee' was a common
signal between you and your father?

"Witness: It was.

"The Coroner: How was it, then, that he uttered it before he saw
you, and before he even knew that you had returned from Bristol?

"Witness (with considerable confusion): I do not know.

"A Juryman: Did you see nothing which aroused your suspicions
when you returned on hearing the cry and found your father
fatally injured?

"Witness: Nothing definite.

"The Coroner: What do you mean?

"Witness: I was so disturbed and excited as I rushed out into
the open, that I could think of nothing except of my father. Yet
I have a vague impression that as I ran forward something lay
upon the ground to the left of me. It seemed to me to be
something grey in colour, a coat of some sort, or a plaid perhaps.
When I rose from my father I looked round for it, but it was

"'Do you mean that it disappeared before you went for help?'

"'Yes, it was gone.'

"'You cannot say what it was?'

"'No, I had a feeling something was there.'

"'How far from the body?'

"'A dozen yards or so.'

"'And how far from the edge of the wood?'

"'About the same.'

"'Then if it was removed it was while you were within a dozen
yards of it?'

"'Yes, but with my back towards it.'

"This concluded the examination of the witness."

"I see," said I as I glanced down the column, "that the coroner
in his concluding remarks was rather severe upon young McCarthy.
He calls attention, and with reason, to the discrepancy about his
father having signalled to him before seeing him, also to his
refusal to give details of his conversation with his father, and
his singular account of his father's dying words. They are all,
as he remarks, very much against the son."

Holmes laughed softly to himself and stretched himself out upon
the cushioned seat. "Both you and the coroner have been at some
pains," said he, "to single out the very strongest points in the
young man's favour. Don't you see that you alternately give him
credit for having too much imagination and too little? Too
little, if he could not invent a cause of quarrel which would
give him the sympathy of the jury; too much, if he evolved from
his own inner consciousness anything so outré as a dying
reference to a rat, and the incident of the vanishing cloth. No,
sir, I shall approach this case from the point of view that what
this young man says is true, and we shall see whither that
hypothesis will lead us. And now here is my pocket Petrarch, and
not another word shall I say of this case until we are on the
scene of action. We lunch at Swindon, and I see that we shall be
there in twenty minutes."

It was nearly four o'clock when we at last, after passing through
the beautiful Stroud Valley, and over the broad gleaming Severn,
found ourselves at the pretty little country-town of Ross. A
lean, ferret-like man, furtive and sly-looking, was waiting for
us upon the platform. In spite of the light brown dustcoat and
leather-leggings which he wore in deference to his rustic
surroundings, I had no difficulty in recognising Lestrade, of
Scotland Yard. With him we drove to the Hereford Arms where a
room had already been engaged for us.

"I have ordered a carriage," said Lestrade as we sat over a cup
of tea. "I knew your energetic nature, and that you would not be
happy until you had been on the scene of the crime."

"It was very nice and complimentary of you," Holmes answered. "It
is entirely a question of barometric pressure."

Lestrade looked startled. "I do not quite follow," he said.

"How is the glass? Twenty-nine, I see. No wind, and not a cloud
in the sky. I have a caseful of cigarettes here which need
smoking, and the sofa is very much superior to the usual country
hotel abomination. I do not think that it is probable that I
shall use the carriage to-night."

Lestrade laughed indulgently. "You have, no doubt, already formed
your conclusions from the newspapers," he said. "The case is as
plain as a pikestaff, and the more one goes into it the plainer
it becomes. Still, of course, one can't refuse a lady, and such a
very positive one, too. She has heard of you, and would have your
opinion, though I repeatedly told her that there was nothing
which you could do which I had not already done. Why, bless my
soul! here is her carriage at the door."

He had hardly spoken before there rushed into the room one of the
most lovely young women that I have ever seen in my life. Her
violet eyes shining, her lips parted, a pink flush upon her
cheeks, all thought of her natural reserve lost in her
overpowering excitement and concern.

"Oh, Mr. Sherlock Holmes!" she cried, glancing from one to the
other of us, and finally, with a woman's quick intuition,
fastening upon my companion, "I am so glad that you have come. I
have driven down to tell you so. I know that James didn't do it.
I know it, and I want you to start upon your work knowing it,
too. Never let yourself doubt upon that point. We have known each
other since we were little children, and I know his faults as no
one else does; but he is too tender-hearted to hurt a fly. Such a
charge is absurd to anyone who really knows him."

"I hope we may clear him, Miss Turner," said Sherlock Holmes.
"You may rely upon my doing all that I can."

"But you have read the evidence. You have formed some conclusion?
Do you not see some loophole, some flaw? Do you not yourself
think that he is innocent?"

"I think that it is very probable."

"There, now!" she cried, throwing back her head and looking
defiantly at Lestrade. "You hear! He gives me hopes."

Lestrade shrugged his shoulders. "I am afraid that my colleague
has been a little quick in forming his conclusions," he said.

"But he is right. Oh! I know that he is right. James never did
it. And about his quarrel with his father, I am sure that the
reason why he would not speak about it to the coroner was because
I was concerned in it."

"In what way?" asked Holmes.

"It is no time for me to hide anything. James and his father had
many disagreements about me. Mr. McCarthy was very anxious that
there should be a marriage between us. James and I have always
loved each other as brother and sister; but of course he is young
and has seen very little of life yet, and--and--well, he
naturally did not wish to do anything like that yet. So there
were quarrels, and this, I am sure, was one of them."

"And your father?" asked Holmes. "Was he in favour of such a

"No, he was averse to it also. No one but Mr. McCarthy was in
favour of it." A quick blush passed over her fresh young face as
Holmes shot one of his keen, questioning glances at her.

"Thank you for this information," said he. "May I see your father
if I call to-morrow?"

"I am afraid the doctor won't allow it."

"The doctor?"

"Yes, have you not heard? Poor father has never been strong for
years back, but this has broken him down completely. He has taken
to his bed, and Dr. Willows says that he is a wreck and that his
nervous system is shattered. Mr. McCarthy was the only man alive
who had known dad in the old days in Victoria."

"Ha! In Victoria! That is important."

"Yes, at the mines."

"Quite so; at the gold-mines, where, as I understand, Mr. Turner
made his money."

"Yes, certainly."

"Thank you, Miss Turner. You have been of material assistance to

"You will tell me if you have any news to-morrow. No doubt you
will go to the prison to see James. Oh, if you do, Mr. Holmes, do
tell him that I know him to be innocent."

"I will, Miss Turner."

"I must go home now, for dad is very ill, and he misses me so if
I leave him. Good-bye, and God help you in your undertaking." She
hurried from the room as impulsively as she had entered, and we
heard the wheels of her carriage rattle off down the street.

"I am ashamed of you, Holmes," said Lestrade with dignity after a
few minutes' silence. "Why should you raise up hopes which you
are bound to disappoint? I am not over-tender of heart, but I
call it cruel."

"I think that I see my way to clearing James McCarthy," said
Holmes. "Have you an order to see him in prison?"

"Yes, but only for you and me."

"Then I shall reconsider my resolution about going out. We have
still time to take a train to Hereford and see him to-night?"


"Then let us do so. Watson, I fear that you will find it very
slow, but I shall only be away a couple of hours."

I walked down to the station with them, and then wandered through
the streets of the little town, finally returning to the hotel,
where I lay upon the sofa and tried to interest myself in a
yellow-backed novel. The puny plot of the story was so thin,
however, when compared to the deep mystery through which we were
groping, and I found my attention wander so continually from the
action to the fact, that I at last flung it across the room and
gave myself up entirely to a consideration of the events of the
day. Supposing that this unhappy young man's story were
absolutely true, then what hellish thing, what absolutely
unforeseen and extraordinary calamity could have occurred between
the time when he parted from his father, and the moment when,
drawn back by his screams, he rushed into the glade? It was
something terrible and deadly. What could it be? Might not the
nature of the injuries reveal something to my medical instincts?
I rang the bell and called for the weekly county paper, which
contained a verbatim account of the inquest. In the surgeon's
deposition it was stated that the posterior third of the left
parietal bone and the left half of the occipital bone had been
shattered by a heavy blow from a blunt weapon. I marked the spot
upon my own head. Clearly such a blow must have been struck from
behind. That was to some extent in favour of the accused, as when
seen quarrelling he was face to face with his father. Still, it
did not go for very much, for the older man might have turned his
back before the blow fell. Still, it might be worth while to call
Holmes' attention to it. Then there was the peculiar dying
reference to a rat. What could that mean? It could not be
delirium. A man dying from a sudden blow does not commonly become
delirious. No, it was more likely to be an attempt to explain how
he met his fate. But what could it indicate? I cudgelled my
brains to find some possible explanation. And then the incident
of the grey cloth seen by young McCarthy. If that were true the
murderer must have dropped some part of his dress, presumably his
overcoat, in his flight, and must have had the hardihood to
return and to carry it away at the instant when the son was
kneeling with his back turned not a dozen paces off. What a
tissue of mysteries and improbabilities the whole thing was! I
did not wonder at Lestrade's opinion, and yet I had so much faith
in Sherlock Holmes' insight that I could not lose hope as long
as every fresh fact seemed to strengthen his conviction of young
McCarthy's innocence.

It was late before Sherlock Holmes returned. He came back alone,
for Lestrade was staying in lodgings in the town.

"The glass still keeps very high," he remarked as he sat down.
"It is of importance that it should not rain before we are able
to go over the ground. On the other hand, a man should be at his
very best and keenest for such nice work as that, and I did not
wish to do it when fagged by a long journey. I have seen young

"And what did you learn from him?"


"Could he throw no light?"

"None at all. I was inclined to think at one time that he knew
who had done it and was screening him or her, but I am convinced
now that he is as puzzled as everyone else. He is not a very
quick-witted youth, though comely to look at and, I should think,
sound at heart."

"I cannot admire his taste," I remarked, "if it is indeed a fact
that he was averse to a marriage with so charming a young lady as
this Miss Turner."

"Ah, thereby hangs a rather painful tale. This fellow is madly,
insanely, in love with her, but some two years ago, when he was
only a lad, and before he really knew her, for she had been away
five years at a boarding-school, what does the idiot do but get
into the clutches of a barmaid in Bristol and marry her at a
registry office? No one knows a word of the matter, but you can
imagine how maddening it must be to him to be upbraided for not
doing what he would give his very eyes to do, but what he knows
to be absolutely impossible. It was sheer frenzy of this sort
which made him throw his hands up into the air when his father,
at their last interview, was goading him on to propose to Miss
Turner. On the other hand, he had no means of supporting himself,
and his father, who was by all accounts a very hard man, would
have thrown him over utterly had he known the truth. It was with
his barmaid wife that he had spent the last three days in
Bristol, and his father did not know where he was. Mark that
point. It is of importance. Good has come out of evil, however,
for the barmaid, finding from the papers that he is in serious
trouble and likely to be hanged, has thrown him over utterly and
has written to him to say that she has a husband already in the
Bermuda Dockyard, so that there is really no tie between them. I
think that that bit of news has consoled young McCarthy for all
that he has suffered."

"But if he is innocent, who has done it?"

"Ah! who? I would call your attention very particularly to two
points. One is that the murdered man had an appointment with
someone at the pool, and that the someone could not have been his
son, for his son was away, and he did not know when he would
return. The second is that the murdered man was heard to cry
'Cooee!' before he knew that his son had returned. Those are the
crucial points upon which the case depends. And now let us talk
about George Meredith, if you please, and we shall leave all
minor matters until to-morrow."

There was no rain, as Holmes had foretold, and the morning broke
bright and cloudless. At nine o'clock Lestrade called for us with
the carriage, and we set off for Hatherley Farm and the Boscombe

"There is serious news this morning," Lestrade observed. "It is
said that Mr. Turner, of the Hall, is so ill that his life is
despaired of."

"An elderly man, I presume?" said Holmes.

"About sixty; but his constitution has been shattered by his life
abroad, and he has been in failing health for some time. This
business has had a very bad effect upon him. He was an old friend
of McCarthy's, and, I may add, a great benefactor to him, for I
have learned that he gave him Hatherley Farm rent free."

"Indeed! That is interesting," said Holmes.

"Oh, yes! In a hundred other ways he has helped him. Everybody
about here speaks of his kindness to him."

"Really! Does it not strike you as a little singular that this
McCarthy, who appears to have had little of his own, and to have
been under such obligations to Turner, should still talk of
marrying his son to Turner's daughter, who is, presumably,
heiress to the estate, and that in such a very cocksure manner,
as if it were merely a case of a proposal and all else would
follow? It is the more strange, since we know that Turner himself
was averse to the idea. The daughter told us as much. Do you not
deduce something from that?"

"We have got to the deductions and the inferences," said
Lestrade, winking at me. "I find it hard enough to tackle facts,
Holmes, without flying away after theories and fancies."

"You are right," said Holmes demurely; "you do find it very hard
to tackle the facts."

"Anyhow, I have grasped one fact which you seem to find it
difficult to get hold of," replied Lestrade with some warmth.

"And that is--"

"That McCarthy senior met his death from McCarthy junior and that
all theories to the contrary are the merest moonshine."

"Well, moonshine is a brighter thing than fog," said Holmes,
laughing. "But I am very much mistaken if this is not Hatherley
Farm upon the left."

"Yes, that is it." It was a widespread, comfortable-looking
building, two-storied, slate-roofed, with great yellow blotches
of lichen upon the grey walls. The drawn blinds and the smokeless
chimneys, however, gave it a stricken look, as though the weight
of this horror still lay heavy upon it. We called at the door,
when the maid, at Holmes' request, showed us the boots which her
master wore at the time of his death, and also a pair of the
son's, though not the pair which he had then had. Having measured
these very carefully from seven or eight different points, Holmes
desired to be led to the court-yard, from which we all followed
the winding track which led to Boscombe Pool.

Sherlock Holmes was transformed when he was hot upon such a scent
as this. Men who had only known the quiet thinker and logician of
Baker Street would have failed to recognise him. His face flushed
and darkened. His brows were drawn into two hard black lines,
while his eyes shone out from beneath them with a steely glitter.
His face was bent downward, his shoulders bowed, his lips
compressed, and the veins stood out like whipcord in his long,
sinewy neck. His nostrils seemed to dilate with a purely animal
lust for the chase, and his mind was so absolutely concentrated
upon the matter before him that a question or remark fell
unheeded upon his ears, or, at the most, only provoked a quick,
impatient snarl in reply. Swiftly and silently he made his way
along the track which ran through the meadows, and so by way of
the woods to the Boscombe Pool. It was damp, marshy ground, as is
all that district, and there were marks of many feet, both upon
the path and amid the short grass which bounded it on either
side. Sometimes Holmes would hurry on, sometimes stop dead, and
once he made quite a little detour into the meadow. Lestrade and
I walked behind him, the detective indifferent and contemptuous,
while I watched my friend with the interest which sprang from the
conviction that every one of his actions was directed towards a
definite end.

The Boscombe Pool, which is a little reed-girt sheet of water
some fifty yards across, is situated at the boundary between the
Hatherley Farm and the private park of the wealthy Mr. Turner.
Above the woods which lined it upon the farther side we could see
the red, jutting pinnacles which marked the site of the rich
landowner's dwelling. On the Hatherley side of the pool the woods
grew very thick, and there was a narrow belt of sodden grass
twenty paces across between the edge of the trees and the reeds
which lined the lake. Lestrade showed us the exact spot at which
the body had been found, and, indeed, so moist was the ground,
that I could plainly see the traces which had been left by the
fall of the stricken man. To Holmes, as I could see by his eager
face and peering eyes, very many other things were to be read
upon the trampled grass. He ran round, like a dog who is picking
up a scent, and then turned upon my companion.

"What did you go into the pool for?" he asked.

"I fished about with a rake. I thought there might be some weapon
or other trace. But how on earth--"

"Oh, tut, tut! I have no time! That left foot of yours with its
inward twist is all over the place. A mole could trace it, and
there it vanishes among the reeds. Oh, how simple it would all
have been had I been here before they came like a herd of buffalo
and wallowed all over it. Here is where the party with the
lodge-keeper came, and they have covered all tracks for six or
eight feet round the body. But here are three separate tracks of
the same feet." He drew out a lens and lay down upon his
waterproof to have a better view, talking all the time rather to
himself than to us. "These are young McCarthy's feet. Twice he
was walking, and once he ran swiftly, so that the soles are
deeply marked and the heels hardly visible. That bears out his
story. He ran when he saw his father on the ground. Then here are
the father's feet as he paced up and down. What is this, then? It
is the butt-end of the gun as the son stood listening. And this?
Ha, ha! What have we here? Tiptoes! tiptoes! Square, too, quite
unusual boots! They come, they go, they come again--of course
that was for the cloak. Now where did they come from?" He ran up
and down, sometimes losing, sometimes finding the track until we
were well within the edge of the wood and under the shadow of a
great beech, the largest tree in the neighbourhood. Holmes traced
his way to the farther side of this and lay down once more upon
his face with a little cry of satisfaction. For a long time he
remained there, turning over the leaves and dried sticks,
gathering up what seemed to me to be dust into an envelope and
examining with his lens not only the ground but even the bark of
the tree as far as he could reach. A jagged stone was lying among
the moss, and this also he carefully examined and retained. Then
he followed a pathway through the wood until he came to the
highroad, where all traces were lost.

"It has been a case of considerable interest," he remarked,
returning to his natural manner. "I fancy that this grey house on
the right must be the lodge. I think that I will go in and have a
word with Moran, and perhaps write a little note. Having done
that, we may drive back to our luncheon. You may walk to the cab,
and I shall be with you presently."

It was about ten minutes before we regained our cab and drove
back into Ross, Holmes still carrying with him the stone which he
had picked up in the wood.

"This may interest you, Lestrade," he remarked, holding it out.
"The murder was done with it."

"I see no marks."

"There are none."

"How do you know, then?"

"The grass was growing under it. It had only lain there a few
days. There was no sign of a place whence it had been taken. It
corresponds with the injuries. There is no sign of any other

"And the murderer?"

"Is a tall man, left-handed, limps with the right leg, wears
thick-soled shooting-boots and a grey cloak, smokes Indian
cigars, uses a cigar-holder, and carries a blunt pen-knife in his
pocket. There are several other indications, but these may be
enough to aid us in our search."

Lestrade laughed. "I am afraid that I am still a sceptic," he
said. "Theories are all very well, but we have to deal with a
hard-headed British jury."

"Nous verrons," answered Holmes calmly. "You work your own
method, and I shall work mine. I shall be busy this afternoon,
and shall probably return to London by the evening train."

"And leave your case unfinished?"

"No, finished."

"But the mystery?"

"It is solved."

"Who was the criminal, then?"

"The gentleman I describe."

"But who is he?"

"Surely it would not be difficult to find out. This is not such a
populous neighbourhood."

Lestrade shrugged his shoulders. "I am a practical man," he said,
"and I really cannot undertake to go about the country looking
for a left-handed gentleman with a game leg. I should become the
laughing-stock of Scotland Yard."

"All right," said Holmes quietly. "I have given you the chance.
Here are your lodgings. Good-bye. I shall drop you a line before
I leave."

Having left Lestrade at his rooms, we drove to our hotel, where
we found lunch upon the table. Holmes was silent and buried in
thought with a pained expression upon his face, as one who finds
himself in a perplexing position.

"Look here, Watson," he said when the cloth was cleared "just sit
down in this chair and let me preach to you for a little. I don't
know quite what to do, and I should value your advice. Light a
cigar and let me expound."

"Pray do so."

"Well, now, in considering this case there are two points about
young McCarthy's narrative which struck us both instantly,
although they impressed me in his favour and you against him. One
was the fact that his father should, according to his account,
cry 'Cooee!' before seeing him. The other was his singular dying
reference to a rat. He mumbled several words, you understand, but
that was all that caught the son's ear. Now from this double
point our research must commence, and we will begin it by
presuming that what the lad says is absolutely true."

"What of this 'Cooee!' then?"

"Well, obviously it could not have been meant for the son. The
son, as far as he knew, was in Bristol. It was mere chance that
he was within earshot. The 'Cooee!' was meant to attract the
attention of whoever it was that he had the appointment with. But
'Cooee' is a distinctly Australian cry, and one which is used
between Australians. There is a strong presumption that the
person whom McCarthy expected to meet him at Boscombe Pool was
someone who had been in Australia."

"What of the rat, then?"

Sherlock Holmes took a folded paper from his pocket and flattened
it out on the table. "This is a map of the Colony of Victoria,"
he said. "I wired to Bristol for it last night." He put his hand
over part of the map. "What do you read?"

"ARAT," I read.

"And now?" He raised his hand.


"Quite so. That was the word the man uttered, and of which his
son only caught the last two syllables. He was trying to utter
the name of his murderer. So and so, of Ballarat."

"It is wonderful!" I exclaimed.

"It is obvious. And now, you see, I had narrowed the field down
considerably. The possession of a grey garment was a third point
which, granting the son's statement to be correct, was a
certainty. We have come now out of mere vagueness to the definite
conception of an Australian from Ballarat with a grey cloak."


"And one who was at home in the district, for the pool can only
be approached by the farm or by the estate, where strangers could
hardly wander."

"Quite so."

"Then comes our expedition of to-day. By an examination of the
ground I gained the trifling details which I gave to that
imbecile Lestrade, as to the personality of the criminal."

"But how did you gain them?"

"You know my method. It is founded upon the observation of

"His height I know that you might roughly judge from the length
of his stride. His boots, too, might be told from their traces."

"Yes, they were peculiar boots."

"But his lameness?"

"The impression of his right foot was always less distinct than
his left. He put less weight upon it. Why? Because he limped--he
was lame."

"But his left-handedness."

"You were yourself struck by the nature of the injury as recorded
by the surgeon at the inquest. The blow was struck from
immediately behind, and yet was upon the left side. Now, how can
that be unless it were by a left-handed man? He had stood behind
that tree during the interview between the father and son. He had
even smoked there. I found the ash of a cigar, which my special
knowledge of tobacco ashes enables me to pronounce as an Indian
cigar. I have, as you know, devoted some attention to this, and
written a little monograph on the ashes of 140 different

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